Americans Observe 11th Anniversary of 9/11

September 11, 2012

Thousands of people are gathering in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania to mark the 11th anniversary of the al-Qaida terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States.

At the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, and other dignitaries bowed their heads in a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. EST (1246 UTC), the time on September 11, 2001 when the first of two jetliners struck the World Trade Center in New York.

The One World Trade Center, built on the Ground Zero site of the fallen World Trade Center towers.

Later, they will lead a similar ceremony at the memorial at the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. military that was struck by a third plane in the 2001 attacks.

Vice President Joe Biden will speak at a ceremony in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where a fourth hijacked jetliner crashed after passengers tried to take control of the plane, preventing it from possibly reaching another target in Washington.

As in past years, the families of those killed at the World Trade Center will take part in a ritual reading of the victim's names at Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center towers that crumbled after being struck by the planes.

But in a departure from previous observances, no elected official will take part in the Ground Zero ceremonies.

Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney took a break from campaigning to mark the anniversary during a speech to the National Guard Association convention in Reno, Nevada.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday visited the memorial in Shanksville dedicated to the passengers aboard United Flight 93. He says the country must never forget the military personnel deployed to Afghanistan in 2001 to battle Taliban forces who gave shelter to al Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden.

"My concern is that too often, we do not express our concern and our attention for those that are fighting and dying for this country. We're continuing to lose good men and women in battle in Afghanistan," Panetta stated. "They are putting their lives on the line every day. And, every day, they are fighting to make sure that this country is protected. We cannot forget that sacrifice."

In a related development, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a deal had been reached to resume construction of the September 11th museum on the grounds of the World Trade Center. The project had ground to a halt over a dispute between the foundation controlling the museum and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the government agency that owns the World Trade Center site.

Also on Monday, federal health officials announced they will add about 50 types of cancer to the list of diseases that will be covered under a special fund established to provide health care to people who became sick while working among the smoldering rubble of the World Trade Center.

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